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edu180atl: john koon 1.12.12

This was the first week of class of the spring semester.  I learned, again, that there continue to be students who are well prepared, enthusiastic to learn, and who have lots of energy to apply to the class.

Ahh, but the energy it takes! Those who demean teaching by quoting the classroom hours involved have no idea what it is about.  How will I find the energy to stay one step ahead of the students? To update the lectures with new material that I am constantly seeing; to include some in-class demonstrations that are so enlightening; to plan another field trip; to answer their questions; to help the ones who need it, and encourage them?

This month begins my 41st year of working beyond graduate school.  I don’t have the energy I used to! But the students who work in addition to taking very challenging courses; the students from first generation families whose parents are likely struggling to see their children get a university education that they never had; and the sorority president who is undertaking a demanding technical education – they all deserve our best efforts so they can solve the problems of their generation.

I also learned, again, that I love to teach.  I love the interchange with the students; I love the synergy between their youth and enthusiasm for learning and my seasoning and experience.  I have learned that, though I will likely be exhausted at the end of the semester, the energy will be there.

About the author: John Koon, PhD, PE ( is an environmental engineer who works as an engineering consultant and teaches environmental engineering design at Georgia Tech. 

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Thank you, John. I have some of the same experiences working with high school students. Although not for for 41 years, I have been teaching for some time, and am growing even more fond, if that’s possible, of the surprises each day brings. As I age and the children remain the same age, the chemistry always changes and challenges. New struggles and new successes teach me fresh aspects of this work. Thanks again for your work and for this encouraging description.

    January 15, 2012

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